Saturday, October 13, 2007

Queries, advice, and discussion concerning the job hunt

Because of the devolution of the "Job Market Discussion" thread, we're creating two new threads. This is the first.

90 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the best way to shop a proposal for an edited volume? Is the process similar to sending out a regular academic book proposal? I have published one single-author book (basically my revised dissertation) and I did not send out proposals until I had a reasonably complete manuscript--someting I could get to interested publishers in a matter of months. I've heard that people editing anthologies secure a publisher well before they assemble the chapters and even before the contributors have written them. So, for those who have done both, how do these two processes compare?

Anonymous said...

The similarity here is that publishers will almost always require the entire manuscript for a revised dissertation. The same also applies to an edited book: first time editors need to do the same as first time authors. But since this is your second official book, commercial and university press editors will typically require a prospectus, chapter outline (with abstracts), and one or two chapters. Supplying the latter is important since external reviewers may want to see more than an introduction. In cases where the proposal is promising, it is quite common to see external reviewers request the entire ms. on the second round. Thus, my advice to you -assuming that you have all the contributors lined up-is that you make sure that the chapters (abstracts) address a set of common themes/claims: that each of the chapters address these themes. It is all too common nowadays for acquisition editors at major commercial and university presses to turn down edited book proposals for failing to meet the following criteria: 1) a broad and compelling topic/subject (not a narrow, specialized one); 2) and well-integrated and organized book. Also, when sending the edited book proposal to an editor, you might also be wary about the reputations of the contributors. Do you, for instance, have one or two stars who will generate market appeal? And if not, do you have two or three fairly well-known contributors who have already published material with the same press to which you are submitting? I would also add that I have learned a great deal from editing two books; however my experience has been largely mixed. While I made important contacts along the way (this may be the greatest benefit to you, especially if you are on tenure-track and do not publish with a top university press), I experienced some frustration with lazy contributors. What I would suggest is to plan to be patient, but also be willing to pull the plug on any lazy contributor(s). The latter is is no easy task, mind you, and I would suggest that you either establish your own criteria, or plan to bring on a second editor to assist you in these matters.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. Thank you, 1:00 pm! Here's a related question from someone who will soon be shopping-around a substantially revised dissertation manuscript: is it acceptable or taboo to have advisors or other mentors try to "swing" something on your behalf with a press with which they have already done business-- or is it more of a one-on-one, you-vs.-press-editors sort of situation?

Anonymous said...

10:57: It is quite acceptable to have your advisor and/or mentor put in a good word with the editor/press with which he or he has published. It certainly can't hurt, assuming that your advisor and/or mentor has established and maintained good relations with the editor/press. Editors, in other words, are always looking for pre-endorsements, especially from those who have published with them. Still, your advisor's good relations with the press cannot overcome dissertation deficiencies in the proposal, such as excessive methodology, a lack of cohesion, excessive references (and or graphs/tables)and stale writing. This is the certainly the case at top university presses such as Oxford, Cambridge and Princeton. As I see it, there are two essential paths you can take here. You can continue to revise your dissertation in the two to four years after PhD receipt, in which you might be able to give more weight to those endorsements by having a more polished, converted dissertation, coupled with three or more peer-reviewed publications. In terms of the second path, you may wish to try your luck with a middle or even top-tier commercial press after, say, 1- 2 years. These presses include, for instance, Routledge, Palgrave, Sage, and Blackwell or even a lower-tier university press. From my experience, these presses are generally more open to a dissertation converted into a book. Moreover, with this second path, there are two crucial benefits. 1) If the external reviews are positive, then you can publish your ms. earlier and get started earlier on your second project, which of course is very important these days for getting tenure. Tenure committees, for instance, at research 1 and 2 and even 3 universities are always looking to see if you have developed an independent research agenda. 2)In the event that the reviews are not positive (which leads to rejection), you can use the external, single-blind reviews to improve the ms. and enhance your chances with top university presses or other middle-tier university presses. Routledge, for instance, has really begun to act like a top university press in this sense. Like Oxford and Cambridge they, too, tend to send out the proposal/ms. to four (initial or first round of) external reviewers (caveat: maybe not in all cases involving first time authors; but from my experience four has been the minimum). Thus, even with rejection, the second path may help to establish success with the first path, assuming like all, or most academics, you wish to have your first book published with a prestigious u. press. My advice to you, though, is to be patient even if your advisor gives you the go-ahead or encourages you to send in your ms. within a year after the diss. defense. This is especially the case if you are tenure-track.

Anonymous said...

10:57 here--Thanks much, anonymous stranger, for your helpful input and willingness to dedicate so much time in giving such a detailed and helpful response!

Anonymous said...

after campus interviews, is it routine to send a thank you letter (or card or e-mail) to the search chair? should you follow-up with some kind of thank-you note?

Anonymous said...

i'd just like to echo 6:20's comments. thanks very much for the detailed info on trying to turn the phd into a book. much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

to 10:34 on 10/23--

when i've had interviews, i've always followed up with a thank-you email to the chair, the committee, and any other individuals i spent significant time with. i've done only brief emails, thank you for your time, it was great to talk to you about XYZ.

honestly, these days, i don't think that regular cards through the real mail are quick enough to leave an impact in the hiring process. You can do email the next day, and by doing so you seem like a decent person.

but hey, the advice is worth what you're paying for it....

Anonymous said...

SO, the market has not been kind to me this year, at least so far. I was expecting this to be the year...alas. My question is: I've been offered to run a program in our field at a fairly prestigious university. The job is not tenure track, but does include money for research and travel.
Flash forward five years, one book out with a solid academic press and a dozen articles at ranked journals: Will I be able to transition to a tenure/tt job then? Will I be looked down upon for having taken a non-traditional path, even though I publish just the same?

Anonymous said...

Re: 10:09 AM

Unless you know for a fact that all the schools to which you applied have made offers and are standing pat with the interviews they have scheduled, I'd say it's still quite early for these sentiments. Only you know that, but the market doesn't seem to have really developed yet.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:51, it is still early. My department is searching for 3 lines and does not yet have an interview list for any of them. The year I was on the market I did not get my first interview until mid-November and did not accept my job at an R1 until February.

Anonymous said...

Re 10:09 am:

If you publish a university press book and 12 peer reviewed journal articles over the next 5 years, then you will be competitive for tenure track jobs at lots of top 20 departments. It does not matter whether you work at Dairy Queen, that publication record would make you very competitive. My department would tenure you with far fewer publications.

Now, please review the premise of your question. Do you really think you can publish 12 articles and a book in 5 years? Why would you think that? Nobody else publishes at that rate.

Anonymous said...

after finishing the phd, is it preferable to go for a postdoc or straight for a regular position? what are people's thoughts on the best path to pursue?

Anonymous said...

Take the post-doc. No question, for me. Gives you more time to prepare your work for publication, and time to prepare courses for teaching.

This is especially true if your "clock" doesn't start until you first arrive at your job. Even if the clock starts at the post-doc, think of it as "leave" something you will very much appreciate afterwards.

Anonymous said...

If the choice is either a post doc or a decent to good tenure track job, take the latter. The job market is idiosyncratic enough that unless you don't mind job insecurity, it is best to take the 5-6 year guarantee (with of course the usual mid-course review) and focus on the long term. Post docs are no guarantee of either subsequent publication or job success. Indeed, job candidates that land one or two post-docs but haven't made any progress on getting stuff out look worse because they have had more time.

But it ultimately depends on how risk averse or acceptant an individual is--and you would know that about yourself far better than anyone else, except your bookie.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard from any of the schools I have applied to yet. Is it time to get depressed?

Are there any steps one should take aside from sending in the standard application materials?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the prospects for returning to the US after being based at a university overseas for a few years following the PhD - Europe and Australia, in particular. Any thoughts on the chances of coming back to the US after a few years abroad?

IR Rumor Mill said...

Anonymous said...

What chance do European-trained folk have for getting interviewed for assistant professorship positions? I got my PhD at a rather decent European school in May and have a couple of publications, teaching experience and a load of conference papers. My dissertation supervisor is US-trained, with a very big international reputation and is strongly supporting my applications. I've applied to a variety of Europeanist comparative and IR jobs (GWU, Lewis and Clark, SUNY ALbany, Miami etc) but so far have heard nowt. My gut instinct tells me I shouldn't hold my breath.
5:45 AM, November 09, 2007

Anonymous said...

5:45 AM said...What chance do European-trained folk have for getting interviewed for assistant professorship positions?

Since this was posted at 5:45 AM, I'm guessing you're in Europe. If so, at the margins this makes a difference in terms of the logistics of the interview/hire. Some schools discourage trans Atlantic / Pacific interviews for Jr. positions because these are expensive. There's also visa/immigration issues. Deans often have to be convinced that there isn't a good fit for the position closer to home, and that's a hard argument to make at the assistant level.
7:52 AM, November 13, 2007

Anonymous said...

The bigger problem for Europe-trained folks is just that the American market is highly provincial and/or tends to prefer the skills emphasized by US-based PhD. programs. Unfortunately, 5:45, my view is that you have a major uphill slog in landing a good US-based job with a non-US PhD, especially early in your career.
9:18 AM, November 13, 2007

Anonymous said...

Re: marketability of European PhD, I agree with the comments that it's a difficult "sell" in the US. As a Canadian with a PhD from a US university, I chose the latter route (instead of doctoral offers & opportunities from Canadian and European universities) because I knew that when I was on the market, American universities (the vast majority of IR jobs) don't really know (or care) about the viability of non-US PhDs. Too bad, but it's the dirty ugly truth.

Whoops, this should be in another thread, probably -- sorry (typical Canadian comment).
10:18 AM, November 13, 2007

Anonymous said...

In response to European-trained PhDs and the American job market, I have a PhD from a top British university and the challenges I encountered landing a tenure-track position was not any different from other candidates from top US institutions. Actually, many of my colleagues at my institution in and also that of peer competitors have done well in the US job market.

I can't speak of French, German, Italian, or Spanish universities, but PhD students from top British universities (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, University of London, etc) are quite competitive in the US market.

Many of my European colleagues were not interested in the US market. They were more concerned about Europe's growing market. And the challenges they faced were similar to the ones I faced in the US - too many PhDs, few positions; research promise; teaching abilities; and so on.

While I could have stayed in Britain, I am a US citizen and I wanted to return to the US. So, during my doctoral studies, I made sure that I attended conferences in the US. Although my Ph.D. advisor is a US citizen, I made a point of networking with US scholars that could help me land academic positions in the US.
8:23 PM, November 13, 2007

Anonymous wrote:

"PhD students from top British universities (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, University of London, etc) are quite competitive in the US market."

Really? On average?

I'd bet money that that is not the case. If you do IR and get your PhD in the UK, chances are you will only have a shot at a relatively small number of schools (typically Georgetown, American, etc).

Barring normative theory, there are very few British trained recent PhD's in top 20 US Departments.

The story may admittedly be different for other type of schools.

Anonymous said...

Since "is my PhD competitive" is such a common question, I recommend the paper found at this link.

Statistically speaking, you can forget about getting a job in a PhD-granting department unless your PhD is from a very select group of US departments.

http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/
viewcontent.cgi?article=1069&
context=csd

(you need to copy this in one line in the browser)

Unfortunately, a glance at the CVs of senior people in the field suggests that you can rarely make up for that later by publishing a lot.

I suspect some people will jump at this and say that it's not true. Go ahead, name faculty with recent (<15 years) PhDs from outside the top-8 US departments, or even outside the US, for that matter, at research-oriented departments in the US.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll take the challenge:

Douglas Lemke (Vanderbilt Phd @ Penn State).

Zaryab Iqbal (Emory PhD @ Penn State

Jaroslav Tir (Illinois Phd @ Georgia)

Stephen Shellman (FSU PhD @ Georgia)

Michael Greig (Illinois PhD @ North Texas)

Andrew Enterline (Binghamton PhD @ North Texas)

Aysegul Aydin (Binghamton PhD @ Colorado)

Faten Gohsn (Penn State PhD @ Arizona)

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (Colorado PhD @ Essex)

Erik Gartzke (Iowa Phd @ UCSD)

And that's just in conflict/IR. So 6:50am can shut it.

Anonymous said...

6:50 here.

Did you read the paper? Do you think they're making their numbers up, or would you at least care to comment on their findings?

IR Rumor Mill said...

We're going to hold comments on the above discussion for a bit. We think that a breather is in order.

Anonymous said...

Good idea of moderators to call a pause on this topic. While responses would certainly have been caustic ("That is not a good program blah blah"), I do think there is an interesting underlying question here about the sociology of the American IR discipline.

The claims are that non-American PhDs have a hard time competing in the American IR market and that it is almost impossible to get a job at a top 20 R1 if you don't come from a top 10 department. These claims are empirically testable. Could be some interesting network analysis done too.

The first response that got through (11:24), does not list a single person who received a PhD from outside the U.S. and lists only one person (Gartzke) who has a job at a top 20 R1 who got a PhD from a non-top 10 department.

More interesting to me is whether these selection effects lead to homogenization of research and grad training at top departments in terms of paradigm, methods, epistemology, regions studied, issues studied, etc.... Again, these are empirical questions with some normative implications.

Anonymous said...

Let me second 7:38 in observing that, if it is possible to avoid degeneration into name-calling and point-scoring, there are some really interesting and important empirical questions that these observations raise. Broadly, it seems to me that there are four interpretations of the observation that most professors at the top universities in the US come from a limited number of (American) schools. The first is training: that the best students arise out of the schools that provide the best training. The second is selection: that the best students both get to attend the best schools and then get the best jobs down the line. The third is intellectual laziness: that even exceptional candidates from schools not in the top tier get ignored in the job search process. The fourth is socialization and herding: that the definition of good work is set by people at elite schools who in turn are best prepared to produce people who do that type of work.

In all likelihood, of course, some combination of all these mechanisms is at work, but there is still an interesting question of how much of a role each plays. Empirically, however, this strikes me as an extraordinarily difficult question to answer. On the related question of how much of a difference undergraduate attendance at an elite university makes, I've seen a number of quantitative models that try to disentangle the first two stories, for example using matching methods. I'm skeptical about inferences here, however, given that admissions committees almost inevitably will select on the basis of a mixture of observable (e.g. grades and SAT scores) and unobservable (essays and recommendations) data: if we match on observables, what we're most likely doing is comparing someone who is strong on unobservables that quite possibly are very strongly correlated with success with someone who is weak. If we think about trying to sort out this issue with respect to graduate schools, the related obstacles to valid inference strike me as quite possibly insuperable (although I would certainly be interested to read work that attempts to do so).

It seems to me that this question is most important not with the eventual stars, who will probably fare well enough almost anywhere, but with people near the border between schools with 2/2 loads and those with much heavier teaching requirements. I can quite easily imagine that a number of scholars who would have been very productive researchers ultimately contributed relatively little because they ended up in a job where they had no time for research.

Anonymous said...

7:38 (and 3:16) you should be commended for raising this issue in such a dignified manner. I, too, believe that this is a very interesting, albeit underexamined empirical question. Part of the problem is of course related to the imprecise nature of the data, such as what precisely constitutes a top 25 or 50, especially when this stat. is based in large part on peer-assessment and other factors that seem to strain empirical neutrality or plausibility. This leads me to believe that this question, while empirically interesting, may never yield any clearcut empirical answers; that, in fact, it may continue to turn on informed perception of reality (that the market invariably rewards the pedigree against even a proven track record of research productivity). Still, this should in no way negate critical investigation of the unintended harmful consequences of the unstated (and seemingly very conservative) hiring practices of most top university hiring committees. I therefore propose the following: that we are worse off as a society and academic community by engaging in these unstated practices of pedigree hire (at the expense of those with demonstrated or perceived potential for productivity).

Let me qualify this statement by first addressing the extremely important suggestion raised concerning the homogenizing of research. What precisely does this mean or suggest? On a very practical level,it reflects the continued (PERCEIVED) hiring trend towards priortizing the [committees'] search of a candidate who shares the commitee's own interest (and which often stresses the possession and employment of quantitative skills). I do not disagree that such candidates bring significant and rigorous skills that can and often do produce very important research results. Nor that some candidates possessing qualitative skills are not hired (ethicists, constructivists, and gender).This, however, is not my rub. Rather, it is two things: first, that so much of the priortized research revolves around empirical studies of war or democratic peace that are not in themselves irrelevant, but are difficient in terms of challenging the views or approaches of the committee members hiring them. This perceived practice remains, in my view, highly suspect, especially given the fact that we live in such a very diffrent world: where democratic peace and war require far more hostorical and sociological analyses to validate the above effects. It is thus important to address the apparent effect of insularity, or the loose and unexamined relationship between hiring those with similar research interests and engagement with the normative complexities of today's problems. Are we in other words creating academic insularity by seemingly homogenzing research via hiring those with similar interests?

Second, does the best school or educational pedigree translate into the best candidate? There is little question that many of the best and smartest scholars come from the best schools where some of the best training exists. But time and again I am reminded as to how talent hides in niches that committees either have little time to examine because of the wealth of applications and time constraints. Much of this, however, smacks of a sports draft in the inverse or with little or no leveling intent (where the top picks go to the top schools rather than to the least performing schools of that year). Something must give in this respect to reverse "the inverse" and to ensure the diversification and buoyacy of academic research in political science. This may well include placing publishing accomplishments of the candidate in the same, if not higher catagory as that of the SAT or GRE, as the only true measurement of productivity and scholarly worth. I believe that this is how it works in other European markets (though this too is an empirical question).

Third, if we must talk about the perceived problem of European Ph.Ds, as it has been raised here, why not talk about those exluded from the American market, who must go oveseas to either find a tenure track post or to advance their theoretical research. The knee- jerk reaction here seems to be that such research is not as rigoruous; hence it should be exported (to what can be judged as more normatively sensitive and potentially more engaged research overseas). But could we be experiencing a partial brain drain from US universities in the same way that we have seemed to deny the opportunities for those with research productivity but a less than favorable educational pedigree? Clearly, these are normative questions with empirical implications. But I do think it is time that all those interested begin to actively address the perceived deficiences of the academic marketplace in the US, or at the very least, to follow up with what we often own up to (the maket is biased towards the pedegree) with more open-ended investigation, and less parochial professionalism.

Anonymous said...

Let me outline an alternative: "rational ignorance." I think it's undeniable that search committees are name-struck. But that's because names are the one readily-observable aspect of a transcript that is highly correlated (albeit imperfectly) with professional success.

Lots of interesting dissertation abstracts turn out to be trash. Lots of boring dissertation abstracts end up being quite sound.

Lots of GPAs end up being uninformative (in my PhD program, almost no one ever earned below a "B").

Cover letters, teaching statements, and the like are indistinguishable. Everyone is excited by the prospect of joining the X faculty. Everyone really values teaching.

Few ABDs have large masses of published papers. Most have one or two. Of those, the vast majority are co-authored with an advisor. Of the ones who do not, many can be on a book track and will publish something fantastic and substantial later rather.

Most everyone's advisor writes a very nice and very supportive letter.

Most dissertation chapters and other writing samples are OK.

So that's what you have...very little to distinguish most candidates from one another, and of the distinguishable things, few are good predictors of success. So search committees look for something that is indicative of the unobservables. The name of the PhD granting institution is a great predictor of that.

Of course, there are always a couple of students every year that are superstars--that can be distinguished from the pack based solely on their observables (fantastic letters, many great solo publications, etc.). But note that they're also far more likely to be in these great departments, and when they're not, they still manage to do really well. In other words, when you need to look at the unobservables, PhD institution is really useful. When you don't need to look at the unobservables, PhD institution is still too correlated with observables to be very important.

The gold standard to test this would be to find someone from a non-top 20 department who had amazing credentials that make him/her stand apart from the crowd, and to see if this person still suffers.

Anonymous said...

I'm baffled by this discussion. Why is there such a premium on getting a job at a top 20 R1? Salaries are fairly comparable across the R1's, particularly if we discount for cost of living (e.g. UCLA and Columbia vs. Vanderbilt and Indiana). Teaching loads are also similar: 2-2 is the norm. Research resources vary more on the public/private divide than on the top-tier/everyone else cleavage. There are plenty of very, very good scholars at non-top 20ish schools. There are some folks at lower-tier R1's that out-publish and out-'citation count' scholars at top-10 institutions. There could only be two reasons why there is a high premium on upper-tier schools: 1) the quality of the graduate students is better; 2) people value prestige and the top-10 "glow". I think it is mostly the latter, which sadly points to our collective pettiness. I think it is much more fruitful to focus on one's own scholarly reputation than getting a job at a top-20. There is plenty of deadwood at top institutions and many productive people elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"The gold standard to test this would be to find someone from a non-top 20 department who had amazing credentials that make him/her stand apart from the crowd, and to see if this person still suffers."


Does such a person exist? If so, this would make for an interesting analysis.

Anonymous said...

Kristian Gleditsch? I think he's done quite well for himself. Great record from graduate school at a non-top-20 department.

Anonymous said...

Kristian Gleditsch has an enviable record and got tenure at UCSD, proof that merit can still outweigh pedigree, at least at that particular school (see also Gartzke). Seems that search committees don't always go for short cuts, although those cases are extreme outliers.

But I think 6:45 overlooks that it's not just the top-20, but rather the R2 and lower departments that privilege hiring a so-so PhD with the right pedigree over any PhD from a lower-ranked department, because they themselves got their PhDs at a top institution. At least that's what I get out of the paper that 6:50 (AM) linked to.

For a slightly different angle on the topic: can anyone think of more examples of people who have worked their way up from an R2 or lower?

Anonymous said...

To 6:45 PM:

Having taught at both a top 10 and a top 50, I can assure you that graduate student quality makes a huge difference in my own quality of life. At the top 50, you have to understand, it was a big part of my job to encourage students to work super-hard, knowing full well that at least 50% of them would have no chance of a tenure-track job and the rest would have a tough time no matter how good they are. It was pretty hard on the soul when it came time to start steering them towards more fruitful opportunities outside of academia.

Do people care about names and prestige? Sure they do. That's because as someone pointed out beforehand, the name is highly correlated with the quality of the student. The best IR students don't go to Big Southern State School, they go to Stanford. Is this an imperfect link? Sure, but you'd have to be crazy to believe that the correlation isn't incredibly strong.

Imagine it this way. There are two possible worlds. In one world, there's a conspiracy among petty scholars at fancy big-name schools to keep candidates from Big Western State University from getting the best jobs. In the other world, there is a very strong and tight correlation between the ranking of the school and the quality of the students it attracts and produces. The outcome of both worlds is exactly the same: the majority of Harvard profs went to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, and vice-versa, which is how the world actually looks. For this reason, we can't infer anything about conspiracies or pettiness from what we currently observe.

Anonymous said...

"The gold standard to test this would be to find someone from a non-top 20 department who had amazing credentials that make him/her stand apart from the crowd, and to see if this person still suffers."

With the caveat that we don't agree what the top 20 departments are.... While they are exceptions to the rule, the most obvious cases are:

1. Alex Wendt (Minn.)
2. David Leblang (Vanderbilt)
3. Christian Gledistch (CO)
4. Rick Herrmann (Pitt)
5. Eric Gartzke (Iowa)
6. William Clark (Rutgers)
7. James D. Singer (NYU)
8. James Vreeland (NYU)
9.

Anonymous said...

"For a slightly different angle on the topic: can anyone think of more examples of people who have worked their way up from an R2 or lower?"

Not sure of some of the categories different schools fall into, but some of the field's leading lights started at liberal arts colleges, non-U.S. institutions, or R2s, but again, they are rare exceptions.

1. Ken Waltz (Swarthmore)
2. Robert Keohane (Brandeis)
3. Peter Gourevitch (McGill)
4. Ann Tickner (Holy Cross)
5. Michael Barnett (Wellesley)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to come back to the question raised - and unanswered - about the marketability of someone with a US PhD coming back to the US market after time in Europe. How do US selection committees evaluate an application from someone based overseas at a good university for their first position?

Anonymous said...

I think such a person would have no trouble on the US market, assuming they have been productive and stayed connected. Assume you have a PhD from a top 10 program in the U.S. and then go to LSE, Essex, Oxford, Florence, ETH Zurich, etc.... for 5 years. Then you would still be very competitive on the U.S. market.

Anonymous said...

Truth of the matter, though, is that you'll have to credibly convey to the search committee that you're serious going back the US.

We once got badly burned by a European candidate we invited for a job talk and ended up cancelling on us a few days before his visit after his institution sweetened his deal.

Anonymous said...

It might also depend on the type of US institution. Places like Georgetown might love someone who's at Cambridge but might not be that enthusiastic about someone who's at Essex. Conversely, someone at a teched-up Midwestern Dept might like someone coming from Essex but not someone coming from Cambridge.

Anonymous said...

Changing the topic from the previous posts, I'd like to pose a question: Is it bad form for an assistant professor (tenure track) to leave a position after one year? If the departure is for family/spousal reasons, does this make a difference?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's bad form. It makes your graduate institution look irresponsible and makes you look unprofessional. No one outside of your close circle of friends will know/care about the specific circumstances driving the decision to move.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. No one would fault you if you left for a clearly superior institution. Political scientists are very sanguine about how the job market works.

Anonymous said...

No one should *ever* hold a move motivated by genuine spousal/family reasons against someone in our field. No one I know would admit to doing so. If some people do, then they should be ignored. We're not in the 1950s anymore, when spouses were generally expected to follow their husbands around. We now have a lot of academic couples, and most people in the field have partners with careers of their own. And if someone is moving to, for example, be close to sick parents... well, that's also more than acceptable in my view.

Anonymous said...

7:32 is dead wrong. First, everyone understands that spousal issues play an important role in people's lives. Second, to imply that one's graduate school would in any sense be held to blame is ridiculous. Not only are we dealing with adults, to even suggest that one should forego moving for a better personal life just to prevent giving your institution a black eye demonstrates a total lack of understanding how the job market works, what factors departments consider and how they weigh highly individual factors such as spousal issues which should never and never are associated with any particular graduate institution of origin.
It is not bad form to leave a job after one year for spousal reasons, after all, the institution always has an opportunity to attempt to address such issues.

Anonymous said...

I would say you can "jump" one year into a TT job without serious ramifications. I would also say that "bad form" doesn't come into it - you need to think in purely instrumental terms. You probably get a pass jumping once - anyone can have spousal reasons or want to move to a better institution or find that the departmental faculty that were delightful at interview are actually lunatics. Search committees understand that. However, jumping a second or third time early in TT positions becomes a major problem, no matter what the reason. It raises the possibility that it is you who cannot get on with colleagues or that you are going to continue to try and trade up institutions. That makes you a high risk candidate for a search committee, which drops you off most shortlists - there are too many good candidates out there for a committee to take a chance that you will be a disaster or leave at the first hint of a better offer.

Anonymous said...

7:32 here. Since the family/spousal issues weren't described, I assumed that it was not something like a sick relative, but rather something more like a spouse not liking a town.

If the issue is one that could not have been predicted at the time at which you accepted, especially health related, then I would say it's fine to move. These things usually get an explanation in the informal rumor system.

However, the fact that they require explanation suggests that if it's something that you could reasonably have expected, it is indeed bad form. It's a matter of integrity, and people with bad form generally don't know it. I would say that moving solely because a better institution is interested is also bad form after just one year. Schools invest money and opportunity costs when hiring- it's an investment that merits more than one year of work.

And yes, such behavior does reflect on your grad department if you're fresh out of your program. The credibility of their word matters, and sending out a bunch of irresponsible climbers sends the wrong message.

Anonymous said...

"I would say that moving solely because a better institution is interested is also bad form after just one year. Schools invest money and opportunity costs when hiring- it's an investment that merits more than one year of work."

If that were true, then departments would write formal binding contracts to junior scholars, sort of like football teams do, and we'd have free agency after 3 years.


"a bunch of irresponsible climbers sends the wrong message."

Funny, I'd think that departments would be quite keen on hiring the very best scholars who are competitive at peer-or-better institutions.

Anonymous said...

What are the usual hiring patterns for open rank searches? Do they generally make their first offers at the senior/associate level (with tenure)? As an ABD who recently interviewed for open rank searches, I am wondering what my chances are, all else equal.

Anonymous said...

What kinds of communication with a department need take place on the phone, and what can be done via email? For instance, can a candidate who has an offer communicate the fact that they have an offer to their other potential employers via email, or is this a discussion that need take place over the phone? What about questions about the content of the offer?

Anonymous said...

To 10:10 AM. It can be tricky to relay offers and details, but Chairs seem to ask for details as a matter of course.
I have a horrible feeling that Chairs already know the contents of your offer before you reveal it. From a strictly economic perspective, it is obvious that there is great potential for collusion among Universities. Note: I am not saying this does occur, just pointing out the obvious.

Anonymous said...

The potential for collusion is real, but keep in mind that these departments are competitors: while MLB teams would benefit from colluding to keep player salaries low, they seem to be unable to resist the temptation to pay a little extra to get the person they want.

Anonymous said...

I read a lot of naïve posts on this site and let it pass, but 10:10am has a good question and the offhanded cynicism of 12:25pm and its follow-on don’t even address it. As a more conscientious effort to give good advice: if you are informing a chair that has already made you an offer, you owe him/her a phone call, unless you have a good reason to use e-mail (e.g. it is well after business hours and you just heard the news). Otherwise, if you interviewed but have received no decision, e-mail is fine. Either way, don’t volunteer details until asked. And as someone who’s dealt with many chairs over the years and has had multiple offers before, I find the responses to 10:10 flat irresponsible. Chairs I know, if asked by someone elsewhere the details of an offer to a candidate, would say “none of your beeswax.” And collusion, what a joke: most chairs want to get their candidate under the budget constraints set down by deans. There is no collusion; it would hardly be impossible even if they wanted to. Chairs are dependent on the candidate for the details of competing offers. Everyone has imperfect info and incentives to misrepresent are high. Come on children, most sports analogies are not relevant to your professional lives!

Anonymous said...

i don't know if anyone is still reading this, but here goes.
I received an offer from a very nice but not particularly prestigious school. I have alot of pressure from my very famous advisor to take only a research position. I am not done with my dissertation yet and I have had had two interviews so far.
the question is, if I take this job (and the income would be nice) for a year or two, does this make me less competitive for better jobs in the future? Will prospective employers look at my file and say, "she's at this very average institution, and we are this place, so it's not going to happen." Is it better to find a one year and then go out again or does having a tenure track job even at a non prestigious school still communicate that you're hireable and serious about your career?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any answers for you, but I am also interested to see what others have to say about this.

Anonymous said...

I think what 6:55 was saying was that although the potential is there, each department has incentives not to cooperate with other chairs, i.e. there is not going to be collusion. As I read it, 5:50 and 6:55 are basically saying the same thing.

Anonymous said...

12-13, 10:33 am

One thing to think about in this job hunt is what YOU want.

You mentioned that your advisor wants you to take a research job and your post generally seems to indicate that's what you want as well, but it's worth considering if a job at a slightly less prestigious university will make you a happier person. I'm sorry I'm not answering your more general question about one year jobs vs. less prestigious ones, but I think it's important to consider how you want to spend the rest of your life while you're doing this job hunt.

Anonymous said...

10.33
4.42's advice is good - you need to figure out what you want. If you ultimately want to be only at at one of the top institutions, your advisor's suggestion is a good one - you should hope you are either very good or very lucky and hold out for such a research post. The reason is not so much the gap between less pretigious university and top institutions, as that since less prestigious university is apparently not primarily research-driven, it is presumably focused on teaching. You are still ABD and therefore likely also have limited publications. If you start a 3-3 (or worse) teaching load, your likely ability to remain competitive for top institutions will only decrease. Your best bet for being competitive is to land a pre-/post-doc, finish your thesis and either publish a couple of articles in top journals or get a contract for your thesis manuscipt at a major university press. You can do all that with a teaching post, but it will take you much longer.

If it is not vital to you that you end up at a top institution, you might take the offered post. Quality of life has much to recommend it. Assuming you do remain research active, moving up the institutional food chain is still possible, but might have to be incremental - being an academic star is entirely possible at Big State University's main campus, but it's really tough at one of Small State University's satellite campuses.

Anonymous said...

You need to take a very hard, realistic look at your own situation and credentials. You mention that you've had 2 interviews thus far; where? If they were at good places (besides the place you got the offer from), then that is at least a signal that you are competitive at good research institutions.

Having said that, you also mention that you are still ABD. I was in a similar position of having some "bad" offers during my first year. If you take a one-year position (or even just take out loans to stick around your dept. another year), how much will you be able to do to improve yourself as a job candidate? For this to work, you need to do more than just finish your dissertation and teach a couple of courses--you need to make yourself into a qualitatively better candidate than you are currently. Just being a year further along won't accomplish that. So that means you need to get a couple of publications, a book contract, a grant, something that shows real research progress.

And, like others have said, you need to figure out just what you want to do. In grad school, we receive a lot of pressure to pursue research careers, to get a job in the most prestigious department we can, etc. But that's not for everybody. And obviously not everybody can do that. Good luck!

Comedyortragedy said...

I have a difficult question - one that has been causing me more than my share of sleepless nights and devouring of entire cheesecakes - and I'd really appreciate anyone's input on it. I currently have a tt job at a 3rd-rate public university, and I am trying to move up the ladder. But as we all know, that is a difficult thing to do with a 4/4 teaching load and the name of the 3rd-rate school on my CV. A while back I hit upon the idea of working as an intelligence analyst for The Man for a few years as a way to pump up my credentials and work my way up to a better school. Well, I got the job, and I'm supposed to start this summer! The money is way better than I'm making now, plus it has the name of a prestigious/infamous government agency attached. So the question is: if I take that job, how difficult will it be for me to get back into academic in several years? Thanks for your help!

Anonymous said...

9:08: It could help land at a better school, but most likely one with a policy focus. If your underlying goal is to return (in just a few years, rather than after you retire) to academia, keep in mind that everything you try to publish will, for the immediate future, be subject to pre-authorization and clearance. In other words, you may find some very onerous barriers when it comes to the single most important factor in advancing in the field.

Yet the intelligence community is, from what I hear, a great place for those with academic orientations to work--not just because of the pay and benefits, but also because of the nature of the work. If I weren't satisfied with my position and low-but-not-zero name recognition, I'd try to get the same kind of job.

Anonymous said...

You also need to seriously graple with how the pay issue will work for you. Once you spend a couple of years at GS-11 and rising, the salary at even a decent university is going to be a major step back. Will you be prepared to make that step back as well as the insecurity of a tenure track wait after having already acheived job security and decent renumeration? As someone how left a good career to go to grad school and after a couple of years in the professoriate is still not close to making what I did before, I can tell you it is a serious issue. It can be done if you love being in the academy, but be very honest with yourself.

jackryan said...

In response to comedyortragedy, speaking from a good deal of experience on the topic, here's what you need to consider. One, publication review - it exists, it's something you have to deal with. But if you're doing theoretical stuff, or historical, it's far less of a burden. Two, the salary probably will outstrip an assistant professor gig, but you can always adjunct at a DC-area (or if you're in a deployed location, that area) university, to keep up your teaching cred. Three, I think it depends on your subfield... I've found security studies scholars tend to respect folks who work in the intel community more than other IR scholars. there are definitely tradeoffs, but the best way I can describe intel analysis is as an amazing faculty seminar where the only students are your "customers" downtown.

Anonymous said...

What is the salary range for assistant professor in Canada, in Can. $? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

4.37
It varies enormously, depending on the type of university (teaching vs research-led) and the location (not just big cities vs smaller communities, but also region - traditionally, salaries in Nova Scotia have been lower than in many other parts of Canada, for example). You presumably have a specific university in mind, so you can do some research for your answer. Most universities post the salary range as part of the collective agreement between the university and the faculty association - it will be on the HR section of the website. The cost of living matters as much in Canada as in the US - the expensive cities are Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the thoughtful advice you offered about working in the intelligence community. Have you read "Sharpening Strategic Intelligence," by Russell? He really made me hesitant about this - more hesitant than I already was. As I see it, here are (for me) the advantages to staying in academia:

1) Intellectual freedom
2) Flexible scheduling - both in terms of daily work schedule, and summers with minimal teaching for research and/or pleasure travel
3) I love teaching
4) Inertia is on my side

Here are the disadvantages:

1) The pay isn't what it should be. I admit it, I don't like being poor. (Did anyone else notice that China recently put student loan debt on its list of the US's human rights violations?)
2) Irrelevance. The vast majority of what we do in academia just goes on a shelf, never to be seen or heard from again.
3) This is all I've ever done. I sometimes wonder if I just never wanted to leave college. Who knows how far I could go in government service?!
4) I sometimes feel dopey talking to students about government stuff when I've never actually done it.

Now for the advantages to being an intelligence analyst:
1) The pay is better. They will start me at GS-12 Step 10, which is far more than I'd ever earn as a prof.
2) More practical, influential work with a faster, more urgent pace.
3) There is a significant gee-whiz factor that will probably wear off pretty quickly, but it is a factor at least at the beginning.
4) Opportunities for paid travel and longer-term service abroad.

The disadvantages:
1) Publication review.
2) A regular daily schedule.
3) No intellectual freedom.
4) Difficult to say if I could ever get back into academia.
5) By some accounts, intelligence analysts are more news-collators, just trying to keep up with daily events, than real researchers who find deep causes and make significant predictions.
5) After all the gee-whiz wears off, I may just find myself in a regular 8-5 office job. "Oh look, another secret satellite photo of a hidden sub base. Big deal. Let's get a latte... But wait, we can't, 'cuz we can't go to lunch for another hour."

I don't mean to make light of this. It is a big decision, and I appreciate your help. I'm sure there are other people out there with the same concerns, and I hope that our exchange can be helpful to them, as well.

Anonymous said...

Let me take on your six disadvantages...

1) Publication review.
---- Yeah, but depending on your subfield and interests, it's not as onerous as you might think.

2) A regular daily schedule.
---- Generally schedules are pretty flexible, depending on work/life situations. I know people who have family situations that require working odd hours, and folks are accommodating.

3) No intellectual freedom.
---- Not true. There is an ombudsman structure in place to protect analysts from having views imposed upon themselves. The only restriction we have (and it's rather big) is that we don't comment on US policy. But hell, that doesn't mean analysts don't talk about it all the time. And, of course, there's the proliferation of social software - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellipedia

4) Difficult to say if I could ever get back into academia.
---- Doable. You'd be surprised how many profs, esp. in security studies, are former spooks - not just the Ken Pollacks of the world.

5) By some accounts, intelligence analysts are more news-collators, just trying to keep up with daily events, than real researchers who find deep causes and make significant predictions.
---- A challenge but one being worked. There's a major push to move away from just collating news, and in fact, people with "social science research skills" are welcomed -- one thing a PhD buys you in the IC is the credibility to think outside the box.

5) After all the gee-whiz wears off, I may just find myself in a regular 8-5 office job. "Oh look, another secret satellite photo of a hidden sub base. Big deal. Let's get a latte... But wait, we can't, 'cuz we can't go to lunch for another hour."
---- At least at one particular intel agency (housed in McLean, VA) I've not seen that be the case. Might be at others, but hell, academia frequently feels like that too.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what people's experiences with having kids and trying to finish phd/do post doc/be on the market/be a junior prof?

I'm at a top school with solid CV (couple PR pubs, plus the other usual good stuff, conferences, external funding, etc.) and my dissertation is up and running and people seem to think it's decent. I estimate I have about 18-24 months of real work (mostly library/archival) left on it provided I don't have major interruptions.

Is it better to have a child or two now, while in the later stages of the Ph.D. and doing a post doc or two, and THEN go on the job market? Or is it better to hunker down and do as much as possible, get some more pubs in the queue, try to land that tenure track job, and THEN have kids.

Are you at a bigger disadvantage taking 2-3 years longer to do your Ph.D., or trying to deal with pregnancy/maternity leave/etc. while on your tenure clock?

Does anyone really care how long you take to finish your Ph.D. and how many post docs you do if the outcome and your letters are good at the end of it all? Or do they see you had more time and expect more of you anyway?

Let's assume for the sake of argument I'm a disciplined person who will finish the degree either way, can afford child care, and have a supportive spouse with a decent income. Let's also put aside the question of biology, havings kids younger vs. older.

Just on the career merits is it still better to push off kids? I hear horror stories about junior professors trying to start families and juggle work-- what are people's experiences with this?

Anonymous said...

That's a really good question, but I'd suggest that, professionally speaking, there's never a "right" time to have kids, at least in my view. I have kids (N>2 is all I'll say) and I am very glad that I had them in grad school and early in my career. Not only was it nice to be a younger parent, but it helped me to balance the stress of grad school/tenure track pretty nicely. I am not saying there were never any tradeoffs -- there were. But I feel that I worked more efficiently when I did work and relaxed more thoroughly when I did relax than I otherwise might have.

I'll end where I began -- there are always professional reasons for the timing to be wrong for kids -- gotta finish the diss, gotta get the job, gotta get tenure, gotta make the big move, gotta get to full/chair/dean/moosehead, etc. IMO, and I am sure that others will disagree, you just have the kids when it feels right and the rest works itself out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above poster on kids and career. Unfortunately careers are not designed to fit with child raising. Take it from someone who has been in both the public and private sectors, the academic world is actually far more forgiving than almost any other career I can think of.

Having said that, kids hamper the ability to do research, and therefore progress. That's life. It just means that you have to stay up later and be smarter about research topics. FWIW, as someone with two of my own who are both young, they (usually) more than compensate for these drawbacks.

Anonymous said...

Continuing the discussion about perhaps leaving academia for intelligence analysis...

To 12/28/07, 3:24 p.m.: Thanks very much for your helpful comments. I'd like to ask you to elaborate on a couple of points, if you don't mind.

1) Regarding collating news: I'm glad to hear that this is being worked on. In his book, "Sharpening Strateguc Intelligence," Richard Russell relates a disturbing anecdote. He says that he was sitting at his desk reading an academic book on his topic. His boss came by and told him to "get back to work." Russell generally says that analysts are discouraged from reading academic sources. By his account, management's preference is for reading daily open-source news and cables.

2) According to some people, including Russell, there has been an anti-Ph.D. bias in the intelligence community. A couple people have even said they advise others to downplay their Ph.D's.

Would you agree with these assessments? (Sorry for putting you on the spot with things like this, but as you can imagine it has been difficult for me to get good information about the actual culture and daily life of the organization. The people I spoke to during my interviews were very helpful with the questions they could answer, but then again, they are also the people who want me to work there.)

I appreciate your continued help with this major decision!

Anonymous said...

More on the leaving-academia-for-the-IC thread...

I spent a few years doing work for the agency before coming back to school (PhD program at a top 10 R1) and would only actually work *at* one of these agencies if I couldn't get a decent job, first, in this field, and second, in the think tank/broader subcontractor community. Working in the actual IC, as opposed to just doing work *for* them from a place like RAND, would be a distant third.

You will just gather and assemble daily news. You will not get to do any big-picture thinking. All of that is farmed out to think tanks and Beltway bandits. There is no in-house research happening. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is.

The one exception would be if you could get a job/have a job in the NIC -- which would be much better, as they do do some actual research, though again, they farm out a hell of alot too. But in any event, those jobs are few and far between.

I do miss what you call "the ghee-whiz factor," the money, and the tempo. Everything else is so much better in academia. *So* much.

My two cents are spent. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has worked in both the IC and in think tanks, it would probably be better for you to get a job at one of the think tanks (RAND, CNA, IDA, etc.). In a think tank, you don't have to drop off the face of the earth academically -- they're happy to let you continue to go to conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals if you wish, as long as you don't fall behind in the projects for clients, they pay a lot better, and they have nearly the same access to the classified and high-tech stuff that the IC does. I think that the IC is trying to move away from news-collating, at least for PhDs, and there is long-term strategic thinking done in the IC, but it's almost entirely done in the NIC and parts of the DoD (ONA, for example). Those jobs exist, but they're possibly even more difficult to get than academic jobs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you both for your comments.

8:44 - I was told that analysts are encouraged to go to conferences and stay in touch with the academic side of the discipline. Is that being overly optimistic?

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

A few comments.

1) Analysts go to conferences. There's an extent to which they keep it quiet in terms of their affiliations, but APSA and ISA both get visits.

2) Analysts love talking to academics, but more than enough academics have the anti-government bias that means they aren't willing to talk.

3) Analysts have certain responsibilities, in terms of making sure they're up on the current developments on their accounts, but are also encouraged to develop outside expertise. It's a tradeoff, but especially as the managerial workforce changes, there's far more tolerance for doing outside reading and the like.

4) Your best bet is to find someone who works in the IC -- for example, CIA has an officer in residence program at a fair number of universities -- and ask. To be honest, most academics who were formerly in the IC left because they didn't like it. So there's a screaming selection bias in asking former officers for their views - for most of them, they have strong reasons why they're "former," and don't necessarily reflect the views of their colleagues.

Anonymous said...

4:54, I appreciate your comments. Selection bias is exactly why I'm trying to talk to as many people from as many different angles as possible. Just as I don't want to get into something that isn't for me, I wouldn't want anyone to invest more time and money into me if I'm not relatively certain that this job is for me.

I was unaware of the officer in residence program. I'll contact a couple of those people right away.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

On the question of returning to academia after a job in the IC or with think-tanks, I don't think youshould think of it in general terms of "will it help or hurt", but rather that it will hurt your prospects in some segements and help in others. By getting such experience your differentiating yourself from the crowd -- whether that's good or bad depends on the potential employer

I've done some defense related work at think-tanks and military-academic settings, as have several people I know. I'd say that having experience in that world is seen as a plus by many departments that offer policy-oriented Master's degrees. That's especially true if they have some sort of security focus, and in the post 9/11 world there are quite a few universities (not so much the R1 PhD depts so much as the second tier) creating such programs and opening up new tenure lines for them.

I've also seen a number of small liberal arts colleges that have liked getting faculty with some real-world experience who can connect with undergrads (and maybe even have internship/job connections for them), vs people whose universe ends with JCR and IO. Defense/Intel may not be better than USAID or Amnesty Intl, but neither does it have to hurt.

Finally, the military schools -- war colleges, academies, Naval Postgrad, etc -- are very happy to hire former IC analysts so long as they've written more than news digests and seem like they can teach.

On the minus side, there are departments, not only at R1 schools, that do consider anything but writing journal articles unproductive and irrelevant, whether pouring lattes at Starbucks or personally solving the Darfur genocide. Even if you publish articles on the side they're likely to be dubious about you given that you chose to "waste" yourself in a non-academic job for several years.

And there will be some depts that do have a knee-jerk reluctance to hire someone tainted by the military-industrial complex. I've seen less of that than I feared, happily, even at some schools with very liberal reputations. But anti-defense bias is out there in some places and would limit you. Then again, some crotchety old conservatives might push for you just because they think you wouldn't be another damn peacenik.

Anonymous said...

This is 8:44 here. I'm still quite positive on the IC in many ways. If you like doing foreign fieldwork (and I do), and you like seeing the immediate impact of what you write, then the IC is a great place. I left because my contract ended, not because I was dissatisfied. One thing you want to consider is whether you see working in Defense/Intel as a means to a better academic job, or as something you want to do as an end in itself, and then seeing where you go after you've done whatever you wanted to do in the IC. As the previous poster said, IC experience will probably help you in some areas, and hurt you (slightly) in others, but that shouldn't really be the main question.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to my first campus interview shortly and was wondering about the protocol for discussing a possible partner hire. Mine is for a T/T position and would like to know whether it is acceptable to raise the possibility of an adjunct hire for a partner (in a different discipline)? If so, with whom? The Dean?

Anonymous said...

Re: 6:30 AM, January 21, 2008

My understanding is that you usually wait until you have the offer to begin negotiating that sort of issue.

I have heard that sometimes partner issues can put a place off of hiring a person. (I don't have personal experience with this, but this is what people have told me.)

Anonymous said...

I was reading over the exchange about the intelligence job versus academia. One thing that stuck out at me was the "gee whiz" factor. How much of that is there really in a job like intelligence analyst? Is there much flying in private jets, using super-cool technology, chatting with high ranking public officials, etc.? Or is it more of a regular desk job, and they have free donuts by the coffee machine on Friday mornings?

Anonymous said...

At the risk of having people yell at me, I'd like to get back to the issue of European Ph.D.s and U.S. Ph.D.s who have spent time in Europe.

I have a lot of experience on both sides of the Atlantic, including teaching experience, and there is a good reason why U.S. universities are sceptical about research experience in Europe. I exempt British universities from the following comments, as they are often different from continental universities.

For better or for worse, the U.S. considers Political Science to be the pursuit of causal explanations. Political Science in most continental European universities is much more like History. I have been involved in several Masters and Doctoral colloquia in France and Germany, and have some experience with Dutch doctoral students as well, and the typical doctoral project is something like "France's North Africa Policy from 1900 to 1950". Generally Doctoral students describe a couple of large theoretical paradigms, then they describe the events of a single case - often in impressive detail - and then at the end they say "clearly it was [insert most appropriate paradigm here] at work" or "so now we know why France behaved this way toward North Africa". While a lot of this work is fascinating and represents much more familiarity with actual facts than most American doctoral candidates ever achieve (except in Comparative), it is nothing like what American Political Science departments want. It is inductive and specific, not theory-driven or generalizable. In all the years I have spent in Europe, I have never once met a Doctoral student whose dissertation topic would have been an acceptable thesis at an American university. This is not a commentary on anyone's intelligence; it is a matter of how the discipline is defined and how students are trained.

So, all that being said: if you have a European Ph.D., unless you are a major exception to the rule and have a thesis that Americans would consider Political Science, your chances are not great. Your best bet is a Europeanist job, but there are precious few of those. Everything that one of the other posters noted about the extra cost of bringing you in for an interview and the "find someone here first" pressure is true. I hate to say all this, because I don't mean that European Ph.D.s shouldn't even bother applying - I think they should - but I also think people ought to know that there is a substantive reason that Americans have a bias against European Political Science. It is not simply "provincialism" or blind prejudice.

If on the other hand you are U.S.- trained and have been in Europe (or Australia) for some time, you are somewhat better off, but there will probably still be some lingering suspicion about whether you went to Europe because you couldn't hack it in the US (kind of like basketball players who can't make it into the NBA). There is also a perception among a lot of American academics that since Europe doesn't have any earth-shattering political problems anymore, and since it's first world, that people who go there to do "research" are really just enjoying the cafes in Paris and studying "minor issues" like the sqabbles over European agricultural policy. You will need a strong publication record in good journals and (as someone already pointed out) credibility in your desire to come back to the U.S.

I'm facing the same issue (coming back from Europe) right now, so I hope there is hope!

Anonymous said...

To 12:56 on the IC:

The James Bond / Jack Bauer factor for an analyst job is pretty low. EVen in DC, it's unlikely you'd be the person briefing the President or any other bigwig. That said, you'd have a clearance and could no doubt go to some interesting conferences with policymakers, flag officers, etc, though not so much top level political types.

I teach at one of the military institutions, and a plus has been having much greater access to prominent policy and military leaders than I would at a typical academic job. Not as much as a well-conencted prof at Georgetown, probably, but way more than the average academic of my rank/fame. Have also been able to visit the Pentagon, NSA, EEOB, various four-star headquarters, etc. Overall the govt has put out almost $25,000/year for travel, which is a nice perk.

I can assure you though, federal employees fly coach, not on private jets. Unless of course it's _you_ they're hauling to Gitmo...

Anonymous said...

to 6:39 - Just out of curiosity, which UK universities do you exempt from your comments? And what do you see as the primary difference between a UK PhD versus a continental European PhD? It seems like there is hardly anyone or very few (maybe this is just my experience) academics at US institutions with UK PhDs...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have advice for the recently hired on how to approach department chairs to ask for time-off for a postdoctoral fellowship and what to expect? I have a position lined-up for the fall but would like to defer in order to accept a postdoc I was recently awarded.

Anonymous said...

On European Political Science being largely historically oriented and not interested in causal explanation: European Political Science has been changing quite dramatically in recent years. While there are certainly a lot (the majority, probably) of departments focusing on more "traditional European" style of research, there are several vibrant departments throughout continental Europe. Mannheim, Konstanz, IBEI, Leiden, Zürich etc. Many of these Europeans are regular presenters at American conferences and publish in well-known journals (including APSR, AJPS, and IO). It would be interesting to see what there chances are on the US market. My feeling is that you need to "prove" yourself by publishing in top American journals and develop some network and "American" credentials (e.g. by doing a prestigious Post-Doc at a US Top Ten School). I would be interested in hearing whether you think that this strategy would help to get a US job, if this is what you want.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have any advice about professional norms regarding interactions with journal editors? For instance, I submitted a manuscript to a major journal two weeks ago, but have yet to even get confirmation that the article was received, much less sent out to reviewers. Especially as somebody new to the field, I don't want to be nagging or annoying the journal editor, but there must be some point at which checking in would be a reasonable move. Similarly, if an article has been submitted, but it's been several months with no word about reviews, at what point does it become reasonable to start being a bit more pushy in emailing the editor?

Anonymous said...

8:32, I'd say you should only mention this issue with the chair once you have a letter of offer in hand, a legally binding fall-back option should your future department decline. You never know what university bureaucracies can come up with to make positions fall through at the last minute, even when negotiations are supposedly in process.

That said most research-oriented departments won't mind at all, especially if your post-doc is prestigious. It doesn't cost them anything, really, the dean can't take the position back once you've been hired, and it gets you started on your book/series of articles that should carry you to tenure. You might have a much more difficult time at a teaching institution that mainly wants the courses covered, but I'm assuming if you're doing a post-doc that's not what you're talking about.

So once you have an offer, mention it to the chair. And don't let them treat it as something that is difficult to negotiate. They're effectively saving money if they replace you with sessionals during your first year.

Anonymous said...

9:31: Others may disagree, but I think it is perfectly fine after two weeks to email an editor seeking confirmation that they have indeed received your submission. It might have simply been lost in the shuffle. Journal editors are also profs and active scholars themselves, so they are very busy and most of the time have editorial assistants doing much of this grunt-work, and depending on the journal, they may be inundated with submissions. Also, my experience is that sometimes these assistants are not the most competent (in fact, sometimes the editors themselves are absent-minded).

As for hearing about referee’s reports, this usually takes AT LEAST 2 months, sometimes much (much) longer. Most journals will give you an estimate of how long it will take to hear from reviewers. If they say 8 weeks, I say it is fine to start inquiring after 8 to 10 weeks. After that, I should think it would be fine to drop them an email about every month or so asking for an update. Just be sure to be courteous in your emails. The last thing you want to do is burn bridges with the editor/editorial staff, which is no doubt your concern.

This is just a personal anecdote, but when I was new to the profession (still in grad school, in fact), I had a piece under review at an association journal for nearly a year (yes). I patiently waited over 4 months before contacting the editorial team and they told me they were waiting for the third and final referee report. This went on for several more months, wherein I dutifully and respectfully inquired every month about the final referee report. I managed to get them to tell me that the 2 reports they had received recommended publication. After about a year, I finally got fed up and decided to take a fairly risky gamble. I asked them (respectfully) for a decision b/c I was considering submitting it elsewhere. They soon gave me their decision to publish (with some minor revisions) on the basis of the two positive reports.

I lucked out in this particular case, and it helped that I knew I had two positive reports in my corner, so don’t count on this tactic always working. Either way, I suspect that anyone who has experience in this process will have some horror stories to tell you – I know I do, but I’ll spare you those ugly stories. I’ll be interested to hear what others think, but for the time being, I think it is fine to drop a friendly email to confirm they have received your submission.

Anonymous said...

I concur with 11:18. If a journal has not moved to a fully online submission process that sends out emails, things can get lost. Heck, one of my recent submissions asked for a file on a "3.5 inch diskette, PC or Mac formatted. We do not accept submissions by email." With those instructions, you know that the editorial process hasn't been streamlined for a while. Respectable journal, by the way.

Anonymous said...

What are people's thoughts on reporting declined fellowships/awards on the c.v.? Crass or informative?

Anonymous said...

10:47,

I have seen several people do it. You did win it even though you declined.

My one caveat is that I would not do it if the discrepancy in status between the two is large. Decline "Exclusive Fellowship B" for "Even More Exclusive Fellowship A" shows you are very competitive and are writing or at least pitching ideas that are being accepted by major players in the field.

To Decline "Laughable essay-based Corporate Fellowship with a Small Stipend" for "Exclusive Fellowship B" should not be advertised. Knowing you also won a cheesy fellowship does nto convey any additionl useful information about you and thus looks silly.

Anonymous said...

I am entering a top 25 program in the fall, and have the following conundrum. Currently, teaching is my passion, while research is not more than an interesting side-hobby. Assuming that my interests do not change (and I make it through!), I have a couple of questions. First, do institutions vary greatly on how teaching and research are balanced, or is the dichotomy more strict than that (ie. liberal arts college vs. research U, or are there many points in between)? Second, is there some sort of alternative currency (other than publication) which carries weight on the teaching side of the higher education hierarchy? If so, what is it?

Thanks.